(Sony/Insomniac Games; PS3- October 18)
Of all the titles on this list, this one might be the smallest release relatively speaking–which says a lot about the upcoming contenders since it’s the tenth game in the franchise. The tenth. Arguably one of the best platformers on the market today, and slightly less arguably the best on the PS3, the Ratchet & Clank series is something of an anomaly in a list filled with games built around gritty realism. The R&C games are just fun. They border on silly at times, but that is part of their charm.
It’s hard to dislike the Ratchet & Clank series. There are so many options, the levels are fun to get through and the weapons are a highlight of each title. This game has a bit of a twist for the series though: That number in the title isn’t just Ebonics at work, the game will allow four-player co-op both online and off. One of the new “things” these days with online gaming is the ability to drop into another person’s ongoing game in progress. Gears of War 3 does it, Dead Island is built around it, and many others are going to be following suit in the future. So the next time you see your friend logged in, playing a game like R&C:A4O that offers co-op, you can jump in and taunt them about their gaming skills, then run around and steal all the ammo while laughing, unaware that your buddy just threw on a set of diapers and began the long drive to your house.
Ratchet & Clank is built around the idea of having some fun and goofing around. There is plenty of action, but very little tension, which could make this game a big hit for gamers with families looking for something that doesn’t involve parents explaining to their children why the nasty old mutant needed to have his limbs cut off before throwing a grenade at it.
(EA/DICE; PC, PS3, Xbox 360- October 25)
Soon enough, your online frenemies won’t be able to hide behind little things like walls or buildings anymore thanks to the new Battlefield 3 engine. Rumor has it that the Frostbite 2.0 engine can actually read your mind and create new maps specifically for you. It can also make coffee while doing your taxes. Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the expectations on this game and DICE’s new engine are incredible.
And why not?
The early clips of the game running the Frostbite 2.0 engine are stunning. In fact they are fast approaching realistic levels of creepiness. It is fun to wipe out hundreds of enemy soldiers as they run screaming towards you, but when they begin to look like your neighbor or the guy you saw on the train to work, it gets weird. The graphics aren’t there yet, but you can see the progression towards it. It’s probably important to point out that all those awesome videos—you know, the amazing clips of what is just a hair away from photorealism—are all taken from the PC, running a computer that most of us can’t afford. The game still looks amazing on the console, just not as amazing as the videos.
But graphics shmaphics. It may look great, but there are far more important things to get excited about, like the ability to fly jets in formation with your friends as you dogfight against other players, all while another ground conflict fought by real people is going on right below you. Whether or not it can be a Call of Duty-killer (and you know EA wants it to be), Battlefield 3 is going to get a lot of attention when it is released.
Check out our hands-on impressions of Battlefield 3 from E3.
(Sony/Naughty Dog; PS3- November 1)
If you ask gamers what their favorite games on the PS3 are, you will almost always hear Uncharted 2 somewhere on the list. The original Uncharted was a decent, albeit flawed game. The sequel fixed pretty much every problem and built on it, making it one of the best games of this generation. There was brilliance in the way that the game took your hand and led you where you needed to go without letting you know that you were being guided. As you ran from things like helicopters and machine gun fire, you frequently found yourself barely escaping and high-fiving yourself for a job well awesomed.
Of course, that was how the game was meant to be played. It was basically a ten hour or so movie that you played through. And it was almost as much fun to watch as it was to play thanks to some excellent set pieces, which means that you could make an excellent argument to your significant other that playing video games was actually an event for the both of you. Let us know if that approach actually works. The third games seems to be following the same cinematic approach that made the second famous, and it will have an online multiplayer that promises to be improved from the second.
The only problem with this game is that people may not be as motivated to buy it on day one versus some of the other games. Uncharted 3 will be a hit, and it will be a game that almost everyone plays, but it may not be able to take money out of the hands of some of the hotly anticipated games. It isn’t a direct continuation of a story (except in the broadest sense of the word), and the online isn’t a huge draw. If you are counting pennies for games this Fall, then choosing a game like Skyrim with 100+ hours, or opting for the proven online games like Modern Warfare 3 just makes sense compared to a game you might play for 10 hours then dabble a bit in the online, maybe. But still it is Uncharted 3. It has the promise of being one of the best games of the year, and possibly one of the best games on the PS3. It is worth making an exception for.